无可奉告:No comment // I’m not at liberty to say…

qqsrx

I just watched a recent episode of 锵锵三人行(Behind the Headlines with Wentao), featuring 徐晓冬 (Xu Xiaodong–right side of picture above), the Chinese MMA fighter who challenged Tai Chi master 雷公 to a fight last week, and beat him in something like 10 or 15 seconds.   Here’s the clip if you ever wondered how this kind of cross-discipline rumble might play out:

Since then, everyone seems to have an opinion on what happened.  I’m not really much of a follower of MMA at all, but Xu Xiaodong seems to have a talent as both an MMA fighter as well as a confident “talker”.  The result is some truly epic internet clips like this one (I want to see the non-beeped out version!):

Continue reading

Super Bowl LI: Winning play, called in 8 languages!

sbtd

Check out this great video that is up on the NFL.com website–the game-winning touchdown from Super Bowl LI, called in 8 different languages: Chinese, French (Canadian), German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Japanese, Korean and Danish.

Each one is epic in a fresh and fun way, even if you don’t understand what they’re saying!

Cantonese is a Living Fossil of Ancient Chinese [粵語是古代漢語的活化石]

This is a really interesting video by Professor Tang Keng Pan from the University of Macau.  I had heard tidbits of this idea before, but he paints a clear picture of the connections between modern Cantonese and ancient Chinese— fascinating to know that ancient poetry (i.e. Li Bai, Du Fu) that is still treasured in modern Mandarin today, sounds even better when read in Cantonese.

The video is subtitled in Chinese and English.   The University of Macao has a Facebook page with some other interesting clips as well.

Papi酱 English class–Dubbed from Mandarin into Japanese

 

Papi酱’s comedic take of an over the top English teacher (actually a collection of very plausible classroom moments) is pretty funny– the first video below is the original Mandarin.

I only posted it here because I wanted to share an extremely clever Japanese dub of the same video (second video below).  Kudos to whoever put it together–well done!!  Clearly, the struggle of English learners is universal.

For folks that understand neither Mandarin nor Japanese, if you’ve ever seen an English class taught by a frustrated teacher, I suspect you’ll still get the humour.

Mandarin:

Japanese:

So, what was the show? (汉语大会)

%e6%b1%89%e8%af%ad%e5%a4%a7%e4%bc%9a

I posted some pictures while I was in China, but I had a few people asking if I could say a bit more about the competition and what it was all about, and perhaps post some video. I’m #6 in the picture here–it’s a screenshot taken from the video below. The clip is only about a minute long, but it nicely sums up the different parts of the show without boring you:).  In another part of the video, you can see me looking at the host in surprised disbelief, and in another I’m playing my guitar.

To back up a bit, as I understand things, the show (汉语大会) is a cooperation between Chinese Central Television (CCTV4) and another branch of the Chinese government called Hanban.  Hanban is the parent organization of the Confucius Institutes that you see all around the world. Their mission largely focuses on the goal of promoting Chinese culture and language learning; some people call this kind of thing “soft diplomacy”.  In this respect, Hanban’s activities are quite similar to the efforts of other governments around the world (think of Spain’s Cervantes Institute, the German Goethe Institute, the French Alliance Française or The British Council).

With that background, my thinking is that the “star” of the show was the Chinese language.  The principle aim was to celebrate Chinese language learning, show Chinese people that foreigners are indeed trying to learn Mandarin, and perhaps to encourage learners of Mandarin to continue with their studies.

I was one of 72 participants from around the world, and I was part of the “Americas” team with four Americans and a Brazilian.  There were also teams (six people per group) from Africa, Oceana, Europe, Asia, as well as domestic teams from inside China– these teams comprised international students studying at Chinese universities.   Most of the participants were much younger than me, but I actually wasn’t the oldest!

The show basically consisted of three parts: the 6 of us planning/rehearsing/performing a skit to show our understanding of a Chinese idiom; next, the six of us were together as a team in a kind of quiz show to test our knowledge of specific topics in Chinese language and culture; finally, each of us did an individual performance (i.e guitar, singing, martial arts, comedic monologue/tongue twisters).

At the end of the day, I think we did a good job; however, it just wasn’t enough to make it into the semi-finals.  All things considered, it was an amazing experience.  Some of the contestants have truly achieved a level of Chinese fluency and on-camera comfort that is really admirable . I came away from the experience feeling quite inspired to keep going with my studies.

I definitely have to close with a word of renewed thanks to the folks at my local Confucius Institute.  I’m grateful for all the work they do, as well as their continued support and encouragement of all the Chinese learners here in Edmonton!

优酷链接

 

 

 

 

That time I was on a Chinese TV show…

Hard to put words to this trip, but I’ll offer the following summary and let the pictures do the talking.

IMG_1793

In short, I got an opportunity to come to China to participate in this year’s 汉语大会. It’s an annual Chinese proficiency contest that’s put together through Hanban, the people behind the Confucius Institute, and CCTV4, the international branch of Chinese Central Television.  I would only commit to the trip if I could bring my son– thankfully, they obliged my request and he’s here with me.

Continue reading

Talking about big numbers in Chinese and English

I put the chart below together for someone I know who, despite having a strong grasp of English, often seems to get tripped up when talking about large numbers. It may seem like a trivial topic but this particular person works in a financial institution in a sales capacity…… I’m sure you can understand how a slip of the tongue in this kind of context might make someone lose confidence in their abilities.

I figured I could put something together that they could put beside their desk and refer to in a pinch– maybe it will work for you?  Feel free to print/cut it out.

big numbers

As it happens, this can be an issue for English speakers learning Chinese as well— the primary challenge being that English and Chinese (this is actually true of Japanese as well), put breaks at different points in large numbers. While English leaves things in clusters of three digits (thousands, millions, billions, trillions), Chinese groups the digits in clusters of four (i.e. units of 10,000: 万,亿,兆).

Continue reading

Documentary film – Blue Eyes, Twenty One Days Of China 蓝眼睛,中国二十一天

Video

The last 6 minutes of Ji Yida’s “Blue Eyes, Twenty One Days of China” perfectly encapsulates the experiences of a surprisingly large percentage of travellers that I have seen; here, I mean to include folks crossing the Pacific Ocean from both sides of the east-west paradigm.

If you want to skip to the spot I’m mentioning, this link starts at the 14:00 mark: http://youtu.be/6fjoNZG1Kzw?t=14m

The American in the film is from a community of 60,000 people and the videographer is his Chinese friend who went to High School in that community. They took a trip to China together over one of their summer breaks.

Luke, the subject of the film, is a pretty introverted guy–the videographer describes him as “the most non-American-American-I-know”. Some of his comments in the scene linked above reminded me of the time when I came to the conclusion that my Canadian manners were getting me nowhere in many situations in China that really required me to be a little pushy; it was initially hard to make the adjustment and not feel like I was being rude— and also let go of the judgement that others (i.e. the Chinese people around me) were being rude.

and so it goes….

Contrary to the opinion that many folks often express, I have always thought that cross-cultural experiences (especially longer sojourns) ultimately offer you the opportunity to learn more about *you* and your own culture. It’s not a guarantee though– for non-reflective personalities, the process seems to work in reverse and you sometimes see cynical expats who have lived somewhere for years in seeming misery.

again, this has been true on both ends of my Asian-Canadian experience.